Peoria Unified School District will ask voters to approve a 13% budget override and $125 million bond in November.
At its May 28 meeting, the PUSD Governing Board voted 3-1, with one abstention, to authorize an override and 3-2 for the bond that will appear on ballots.
The 13% override will continue to provide important funding for the district, said Michelle Myers, PUSD’s chief financial officer.
Voters approved the current 13% override in 2015. But an increase to 15% narrowly failed last fall.
PUSD voters first approved a 10% override in 1996 and renewed in 2001, 2006 and 2012. In 2015, voters approved a 13% override. The authorization lasts for seven years and phases out over the last two years if not renewed or replaced with another voter-approved initiative.
The district has 42 schools in Glendale and Peoria.
Danielle Airey, a district spokeswoman, said the current 13% override provides approximately $28 million of additional funding for the district’s maintenance and operations budget each year for health care professionals, physical education, arts education, music, chorus and assistant principals.
The override would also cover funding for a lot more including but not limited to full-day kindergarten and teacher salaries, according to Airey.
Myers said the bond will cover costs for upgrades and repairs to existing schools as well as purchase land to build a new high school.
Judy Doane was the only member to fully vote against both motions.
“I was willing to support a lesser override than this,” she said.
Doane said that if the district wants to see the override succeed, then the bond should be delayed.
Governing Board President David Sandoval and members Cory Underhill and Monica Ceja Martinez voted for the override and the bond.
“I understand what Ms. Doane is saying about this being a time of economic uncertainty, which is why we absolutely need a continuation of our 13% override,” Underhill said.
She felt this money would help the district face changes and new challenges in schools during a post COVID-19 world.
Martinez supported the override, noting it funds nurses and health services within schools.
“My priority has always been and will always be safety first,” she said.
And she felt the bond provided funding for important updates that make sure the buildings are up to state code.
“I am in support of the bond so we can follow the law and stay compliant and keep our kids safe,” Martinez said.
Beverly Pingerelli abstained from voting for the override but did give her opinion on the subject.
“I believe a continuation of the 13% override at this time, especially if there is a potential tax increase on our community, is unwise,” Pingerelli said. “I was hopeful that we could have proposed a reduction in the override amount.”
Pingerelli did not support the bond and questioned whether people in the meeting felt the bond or the override was more crucial for the district.
Myers and Superintendent Linda Palles Thompson both stated that the district needed the override.
“Without an M&O override in place, the district would lose funds that support people and programs,” Airey said.
Several community members provided their opinions to the board before the vote.
“I have one request for all board members. If you’re truly for our children, then vote ‘yes’ for both items,” Armando Macias said.
Jill Melaragni agreed with Doane’s view.
“I would like to ask that you only go out for an override this election cycle,” Melaragni said. “Past polling results show that voters will approve a bond over an override, and we can not allow this override to fail.”
Doane also talked about her discussions on the override with citizens not associated with education.
“Literally nobody that I have spoken to outside of the education realm has agreed that they would vote for this—nobody,” she said.
Sandoval called for united support moving forward.
“I believe that each one of us wants this override to be successful and wants the district to be successful,” Sandoval said. “We just do it from different points of view.”